Power Holdings Inc is an international consumer audio product development and distribution company. We specialize in marketing high end audio components and accessories to music enthusiasts in North America.
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The DAC3 is Benchmark's newest 2-channel D/A converter featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip. The DAC3 converter has lower THD and THD+N noise than Benchmark's DAC2 converter.
Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 D/A converter families have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or the DAC2. Benchmark converters are in daily use at many of the world's finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar again ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.
The DAC3 delivers outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging. It employs an advanced high-headroom digital filter design, and a high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface. All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's new UltraLock3™ jitter attenuation system.
Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.
Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to create each balanced analog output. This 4:1 summation provides a 6 dB noise reduction, and gives the DAC3 industry-leading performance.
The DAC3 builds upon Benchmark’s highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but adds the higher performance available from the new ES9028PRO D/A converter. The DAC3 offers the following improvements over the DAC2:
The DAC3 and DAC2 added these features that were not found on the DAC1:
All digital inputs on the DAC3 support native 192 kHz PCM or DSD64 conversion. From any input, DSD is transported with bit accuracy over DoP 1.1. DSD and PCM are both natively converted to analog. There are no DSD to PCM or PCM to DSD conversions to compromise the quality of the music. The DAC3 conversion system seamlessly switches between native PCM and native DSD conversion. DSD over DoP 1.1 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.
Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and speakers. Benchmark converters feature adjustable low-impedance passive attenuators at the XLR outputs that can be used to optimize the interface to the power amplifier (or powered monitor). This unique Benchmark feature optimizes the gain staging between the DAC and the power amplifier. Proper gain staging cannot be overemphasized. When audio stages are properly matched, each component in the audio chain is able to operate at its optimum signal level, and the system performance is significantly improved.
All Benchmark converters are designed for maximum transparency. This transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. For this reason, DAC3 converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems. Unlike many competing products, the DAC3 is not designed to add "euphonic" coloration to the audio. Instead it is designed to be as uncolored and natural as possible.
When Benchmark's professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment. Enjoy pure music without any coloration from the electronics. Hear the music exactly the way it was heard in the studio, and exactly the way the artists intended.
Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.
Transparent sound can go beyond replicating the studio experience. Recordings that have been produced with a natural and unprocessed sound can transport you to the performance space. But, this can only happen when the entire playback chain is selected for maximum transparency.
This experience of "being there" cannot be created by systems that are designed to add "warmth" or "euphonic color" to the music.
This Benchmark product was designed, assembled, and tested in the USA using USA and imported components. Most major components are made in USA.
The ES9028PRO has two distortion compensation systems that independently remove most of the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion in the D/A converter. Benchmark's ultra-clean analog output stages allow these systems to be fully leveraged in the DAC3. To the best of our knowledge, no other D/A converter has lower THD than the Benchmark DAC3.
"HGC" is Benchmark's unique Hybrid Gain Control system. The DAC3 combines active analog gain control, passive low-impedance attenuators, a 32-bit digital gain control, and a servo-driven volume control. All inputs are controlled by the rotary volume control. This volume control moves in response to commands from the remote control. Analog inputs are never converted to digital, and digital inputs never pass through an analog potentiometer. Digital inputs are precisely controlled in the 32-bit DSP system. The DSP system preserves precise L/R balance, and precise stereo imaging, while avoiding any source of noise and distortion.
Benchmark's unique passive output attenuators provide distortion-free gain reduction without reducing the dynamic range of the converter. The attenuators optimize the gain staging between the DAC3 and the power amplifier. This optimization is absolutely essential for maximizing the dynamic range of the entire playback system. Much of the success of the DAC1 and DAC2 converters can be attributed to the passive output attenuators. Musical details can be obscured by system noise whenever a preamplifier and power amplifier are improperly matched. The" HGC " system will make full use of your power amplifier's dynamic range. Experience new details in your favorite recordings.
UltraLock3™ is an improved version of the UltraLock2™ system used in the DAC2 product family. UltraLock3™ locks with precise phase accuracy in only 6 ms. In contrast, the UltraLock2™ system required 400 ms. Both UltraLock™ systems provide virtually perfect jitter attenuation, but the lightning-fast lock time of the new UltraLock3™ will be appreciated by many of our users.
DSP processing is 32-bits, DSP headroom is 3.5 dB, sample rate is 211 kHz, and jitter-induced distortion and noise is at least 140 dB below the level of the music - well below the threshold of hearing. Benchmark's UltraLock3™ system eliminates all audible jitter artifacts.
All of the digital processing in the DAC3 is designed to handle signals as high as +3.5 dBFS. Most digital systems clip signals that exceed 0 dBFS. The 0 dBFS limitation seems reasonable, as 0 dBFS is the highest sinusoidal signal level that can be represented in a digital system. However, a detailed investigation of the mathematics of PCM digital systems will reveal that inter-sample peaks may reach levels slightly higher than +3 dBFS while individual samples never exceed 0 dBFS. These inter-sample overs are common in commercial releases, and are of no consequence in a PCM system until they reach an interpolation process. But, for a variety of reasons, virtually all audio D/A converters use an interpolation process. The interpolation process is absolutely necessary to achieve 24-bit state-of-the art conversion performance. Unfortunately, inter-sample overs cause clipping in most interpolators. This clipping produces distortion products that are non-harmonic and non-musical . We believe these broadband distortion products often add a harshness or false high-frequency sparkle to digital reproduction. The DAC3 avoids these problems by maintaining at least 3.5 dB of headroom in the entire conversion system. We believe this added headroom is a groundbreaking improvement.
Benchmark's USB system supports USB Audio 2.0, DSD, and USB Audio 1.1. It is frequency agile, and will follow sample rate changes initiated by the computer and/or the media playback software. In all modes the USB communications are asynchronous in order to eliminate unnecessary sources of jitter.
The DAC3 has a low-jitter master clock which controls the transfer of audio data from the computer to the USB sub-system. The computer asynchronously transfers audio data to a buffer in the DAC3. The contents of the buffer are then asynchronously transferred to the D/A conversion subsystem. This second asynchronous transfer eliminates any traces of jitter that accumulate as the data is transferred between the USB and conversion subsystems. No traces of jitter-induced distortion are measurable to our measurement limits (better than -150 dBFS). This truly represents the state-of-the art. Enjoy the convenience of computer playback without compromise. The Asynchronous USB system supports USB Audio 2.0 for high-resolution 192kHz, and DSD playback. No drivers are required for MAC operating systems. An easy-to-install driver adds 192 kHz and DSD capabilities to Windows operating systems.
An asynchronous, driverless USB Audio 1.1 mode supports sample rates up to 96 kHz. This USB mode can be selected from the front panel or from the remote control. The driverless USB Audio 1.1 mode allows quick plug-and-play connections to Windows, MAC, iOS, and Linux operating systems without installing drivers. Just plug in the USB, and the DAC3 becomes an available audio device.
The USB subsystem remains active when the DAC3 is powered down. This prevents interruptions to the computer playback operations and eliminates the need to reconfigure the computer every time the converter is turned on.
Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters deliver audio to Benchmark's low-impedance current to voltage converters. The 4:1 redundancy reduces noise and distortion to levels that set new benchmarks. The conversion system at the core of the DAC3 is as good as it gets. The analog circuits that follow the D/A converter are carefully designed. Benchmark has leveraged its long history of building high-end analog audio equipment, in order to create an outstanding output stage.
The conversion system in the DAC3 achieves a 6 dB signal to noise improvement through the use of 4:1 summing. The ES9028PRO D/A is an 8-channel 32-bit converter. In the DAC3, four channels are summed in the analog domain to form each of the two output channels.
The 4:1 summing also improves the THD. The non-linearities in individual conversion channels are averaged across the four summed channels and incoherent non-linearities are attenuated by 6 dB.
Ever wonder why that 192 kHz 24-bit download on your computer just doesn't sound right? Your media player may be down-sampling to 44.1 kHz and/or truncating to 16-bits. Many computers and media players apply poor-quality sample rate conversion and truncation. Fortunately these problems can be eliminated with the selection a good frequency-agile media player. The sample-rate and word-length displays on the DAC3 confirm the proper operation of your media player.
You may encounter recordings with inverted polarity. The DAC3 HGC and DAC3 L include a polarity switch to correct the problem.
The DAC3 can be integrated into a home theater system. Typically the DAC3 drives the left and right power amplifiers, and an analog feed from the home theater system is connected to either of the analog inputs on the DAC3. A programmable Home Theater Bypass function sets the pass-through gain to unity when the surround system is active. The DAC3 HGC and DAC3 L include an indicator light that is illuminated when bypass is active.
The second coaxial input on the DAC3 can be reconfigured as a digital output. In output mode, any selected digital input (including USB) will pass through to the coaxial output. The digital pass through is bit-transparent and even supports DSD (DoP 1.1). Dolby digital and DTS formats can also be passed through to a surround processor.
Benchmark re-invents the 12 volt trigger. The trigger connection on the DAC2 can be used as an input, an output, or both. It is compatible with any common 12 volt trigger input or output. The trigger can be used to turn a power amplifier on or off automatically. The DAC3 will also respond to a 12 volt trigger to follow the actions of another audio component.
The power switch can place the DAC3 in standby, or full shut down. In full shut down, the unit will still respond to the trigger input and the IR remote control. Power consumption is less than 0.5 W in full shut down.
The DAC3 uses high-efficiency low noise power supplies and may be operated from any standard international voltage without adjustment. Power consumption is 12 W typical.
To achieve the lowest possible noise, the DAC3 uses distributed power supply regulation. Each critical subsystem has at least one dedicated low-noise voltage regulator.
Fs = 44.1 to 96 kHz, 20 to 20 kHz BW, 1 kHz test tone, 0 dBFS = +24 dBu (unless noted)
SNR – A-Weighted, 0 dBFS = +27 dBu
SNR – Unweighted, 0 dBFS = +27 dBu
THD+N, 1 kHz at 0 dBFS
-113 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%
THD+N, 1 kHz at -1 dBFS
-114 dBFS, -113 dB, 0.00022%
THD+N, 1 kHz at –3 dBFS
-119 dBFS, -116 dB, 0.00016%
THD+N, 20 to 20 kHz test tone at –3 dBFS
-113 dBFS, -110 dB, 0.00032%
Frequency Response at Fs=192 kHz
Frequency Response at Fs=48 kHz
Maximum Amplitude of Jitter Induced Sidebands (10 kHz 0 dBFS test tone, 12.75 UI sinusoidal jitter at 1 kHz)
< -144 dB
Maximum Amplitude of Spurious Tones with 0 dBFS test signal
< -138 dB
Maximum Amplitude of Idle Tones
< -147 dB
Maximum Amplitude of AC line related Hum & Noise
< -133 dB
Inter-channel Differential Phase (Stereo Pair – any sample rate)
+/- 0.25 degrees at 20 kHz
Inter-channel Differential Phase (Between DAC3 Units Fs<110 kHz) Any sample rate.
Maximum Lock Time after Fs change
Soft Mute Ramp Up/Down Time
Mute on Receive Error
Mute on Lock Error
Mute on Idle Channel
50/15 us De-Emphasis Enable
Automatic in Consumer Mode
De-Emphasis Supported at
Fs = 32, 44.1, 48 kHz
Group Delay (Latency)
Delay – Digital Input to Analog Output (function of sample rate)
1.36 ms at 44.1 kHz
1.27 ms at 48 kHz
0.90 ms at 88.2 kHz
0.82 ms at 96 kHz
0.51 ms at 176.4 kHz
0.47 ms at 192 kHz
Digital Audio Inputs
Number of Digital Inputs (switch selected)
5 (1 USB, 2 Optical, 2 Coaxial)
Number of Channels
Input Sample Frequency Range
28 to 210 kHz (Coaxial Inputs)
28 to 96 kHz (Optical Inputs)
44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz (USB Input)
Maximum Input Word Length
Digital Input Impedance
75 Ohms (Coaxial Inputs)
DC Blocking Capacitors on Digital Inputs
Yes (Coaxial Inputs)
Transient and Over-Voltage Protection on Digital Inputs
Minimum Digital Input Level
250 mVpp (Coaxial Inputs)
(With no Measurable Change in Performance)
>12.75 UI sine, 100 Hz to 3 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 20 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 40 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 80 kHz
>1.5 UI sine at 90 kHz
>0.25 UI sine above 160 kHz
Jitter Attenuation Method
Benchmark UltraLock3™ - all inputs
Balanced Analog Outputs
Number of Balanced Analog Outputs
Gold-Pin Neutrik™ male XLR
60 Ohms (Attenuator off)
425 Ohms (Attenuator = 10 dB)
135 Ohms (Attenuator = 20 dB)
Analog Output Clip Point
Factory Set Bypass Level (at 0 dBFS)
+24 dBu (Attenuator = 0 dB)
Output Level Range (at 0 dBFS) In ‘Variable’ Mode
Off to +27.5 dBu (Attenuator off)
Off to +17.5 dBu (Attenuator = 10 dB)
Off to +7.5 dBu (Attenuator = 20 dB)
Output Level Variation with Sample Rate (44.1 kHz vs. 96 kHz)
< +/- 0.006 dB
Unbalanced Analog Outputs
Number of Unbalanced Analog Outputs
+13.5 dBu (3.7 Vrms)
Factory Set Home Theater Bypass Output Level (at 0 dBFS)
+8.2 dBu (2 Vrms)
Output Level Range (with 0 dBFS digital input)
Off to +11.7 dBu (3 Vrms)
Output Level Variation with Sample Rate
Indicators - Type and Location
16 LED’s on Front Panel
1 – Dim/Mute
1 - Polarity
6 – Input
2 – Bypass/Calibrated Output
2 – Word length
4 – Sample Rate
AC Power Requirements
Nominal Input Operating Voltage Range (VAC RMS)
100 – 240V
< 0.5 Watts Idle
12 Watts Typical Program
15 Watts Maximum
5 x 20 mm (2 required)
0.5 A 250 V Slo-Blo® Type
Min/Max Operating range (VAC RMS)
90 – 260 VAC
47 – 63 Hz
½ Rack Wide, 1 RU High
Depth behind front panel
8.5” (216 mm)
Overall depth including connectors but without power cord
9.33” (237 mm)
9.5” (249 mm)
1.725” (44.5 mm)
DAC3 with remote control, power cord, extra fuses, and manual
DAC3 Series Manual
Windows operating systems prior to Windows 10 require a driver when operating in USB Audio 2.0 mode. USB Audio 2.0 mode is required for sample rates over 96 kHz. No driver is required for Windows operating systems when operating in USB Audio 1.1 mode (sample rates up to 96 kHz). No driver is required for Mac or Linux operating systems.DAC2 and DAC3 Driver
DAC2 and DAC3 App Notes
Welcome to Power Holdings Inc! We have been in business since 2008 providing audiophiles with equipment and customer service that we are proud of. Our brands are sold throughout the USA and Canada both online and in retail stores. Please see our list of AUTHORIZED RESELLERS to find a dealer near you. You can also purchase these products on this website. If you have any questions please feel free to Contact Us.
Enjoy the music, Arthur G H Power IV